Why can't it just be easy? Not this season for the Cavaliers, who have made a habit of taking big leads only to give them away with a combination of sloppy play and air-headedness that would make any high-school cheerleader proud. Tonight the crime took place in Oakland as the Cavaliers let most of a double-digit 4th Quarter lead evaporate before hanging on to beat the Harlem Globe.....er....Golden State Warriors 117-114.
To the Cavaliers credit, they seemed fresh after playing a tough game on the road in Portland the night before. The Portland-Golden State back-to-back meat grinder is never something a team looks forward to and now that it is over, and the Cavaliers can chalk both up as wins, we can take a moment to enjoy the accomplishment.
Tonight was more of the same for the Wine and....er....Blue and Orange. LeBron James was dynamite, offensively(37 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds) - and defensively(4 blocks, 2 steals). LeBron added two more CDBs(Chase-Down-Blocks) to his total(11) getting Stephen Curry in the 1st Half and Monta Ellis in the 2nd. James is the defending MVP of the NBA and he played like it tonight. After taking just one shot in the 3rd Quarter - a 3 at the buzzer - he went on to score 15 points in the 4th quarter, most from in the post, when Mike Brown went small and LeBron played the 4. The Warriors simply had no answer.
Few teams do. When/If LeBron decides that the post-game will become a big part of his arsenal he'll become the most dominant force in the game - if he isn't already.
After LeBron is was a bunch of guys that stepped up to help the Cavs get the win. Mike Brown, usually one to stick with an eight or nine man rotation, went 10-deep against the Warriors looking to find a match-up that slowed the Warriors down just long enough. All ten scored at least 5 points, led by Anderson Varejao(15), Zydrunas Ilgauskas(14), Shaq(13) and the Cavaliers newest sensation Hot Wad Williams who scored a career-high 11 points on 4-5 shooting.
Overall the bench scored 52 points. They now can realistically go 11 deep. Hell, when Leon Powe comes back, Mike Brown could go 12-deep.
As a team the Cavaliers 10 blocks, 5 in a row at a point in the 3rd Quarter, and forced 13 turnovers.
For the And-1 guys it was Skip to My Lou....errr...Monta Ellis scoring 30 points, Stephen Curry with 21, and Corey Maggette, using an unimaginable 18 Free Throw attempts to score 32 points. That's right, for some reason Corey Maggette was grated 18 trips to the stripe. Overall, the Warriors, who prefer to shot perimeter jumpers, got to the line 38 times.
"They junked the game up.." was the way Mike Brown described it after the game, clearly annoyed with how the "Beautiful Game' was turned into "5 guys running around'.
22 Cavaliers turnovers kept this one close. It has become a disturbing trend that the Cavaliers need to clean up before the playoffs. I know, there is still a long way to go, but through 40 games - half the season - the team has yet to resolve their issues protecting the basketball.
We can all take a deep breath. The Cavaliers are now 2-1 on their longest road trip of the season, 5-2 combined on their two West-Coasts trips this season. There are two to go, at Utah on Thursday and at LA on Saturday to face the Clippers. The Cavs have earned a couple days off - hopefully they make good use of it.